OUR KEY PARTNERS
THE LEGO FOUNDATION
Through the Six Bricks RCT (a research project funded by The LEGO Foundation, Denmark in 2015), TREE as an implementing partner in South Africa, has learned and grown tremendously.
We have experienced the transformative power of six bricks through the improved quality and energy of each of our trainers who took part in the RCT project. Some values that we have directly witnessed through our involvement in Six Bricks RCT both through our trainers as well as through the practitioners is that Six Bricks promotes effective practice through its ability to:
- Give serious attention to children’s voices and choices.
- Build on pupils’ prior learning and experience and to scaffold learning.
- Focus on developing higher order thinking and metacognition, make good use of dialogue and promote questioning.
- Involve a range of techniques, including whole-class and structured group work, guided learning and individual activity.
- Be inclusive and take the diverse needs of a range of learners, as well as include matters of equity.
- Promote teacher behaviour, knowledge and understanding as well as challenge traditional and at times redundant beliefs.
TREE’s interventions are directed towards ensuring that play activities with children, either teacher guided or supported or through free play, enhances language development, social competence, creativity, imagination and thinking skills.
The Six Bricks Activities also help children develop a range of critical skills, active learning, attention, working memory, motivation and collaboration. This programme also uses real life examples to conduct learning.
WOOLWORTHS MY SCHOOL
The MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fundraising programme is one of South Africa’s biggest community programmes. MySchool programme raises funds for schools, charities and environmental organisations through a card system that allows supporters to raise funds for their beneficiary (school or charity) every time they shop at one of the partner stores. Partners make a contribution, on behalf of the supporter/cardholder, towards the beneficiary they have selected. The system allows cardholders to make a difference to a worthy cause without it costing them a cent! The MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme raises more than R4 million per month for the schools, charities, animal welfare and environmental organisations it supports. TREE has been involved with the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme since 2009.
Like other organisations TREE wanted to give supporters an easy way to contribute to TREE’s programmes and activities by shopping at their favourite store. TREE uses the funds to carry out programmes and activities that support early childhood development through training and resource provision. TREE relies on this and other funding to support projects and initiatives towards the development of young children in our country.
PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION.
OXFAM WASH PROGRAMME
As an organization committed to pioneering quality ECD provisioning in rural and marginalized communities of KZN and the Eastern Cape; TREE adopts an integrated and holistic approach in all its programmes which requires an enabling learning environment in order for quality ECD services to flourish. In its 30 years of experience in the ECD sector; TREE has realized that one of the stumbling blocks in the delivery of quality ECD services is access to basic services as articulated in the country’s constitution. Experience suggests that people in rural and marginalized communities are most affected by poor provisioning of basic services. While the government has done a lot in addressing these matters; there remains a huge gap that requires us as civil society to introduce interventions that will restore dignity to the most marginalized of our people; and thereby give impetus to what we call quality ECD provisioning. TREE has partnered with Oxfam with the view improving good water, sanitation, and hygiene practices throughout all its programming for the purpose of positively impacting the lives of children.
While progress has been realized and the number of diarrhoea/cholera incidents has decreased amongst children in our areas of operation; there still remains a challenge as to how we can ensure consistency in good hygiene practices outside the ECD sites and into the households
where children reside. As reflected in some of the assessments we have conducted since our partnership with Oxfam; a significant number of our sites do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities; they do not treat their drinking water for potential germs; they do not properly manage their waste; integrate hygiene routines in daily programming; or observe general good hygiene practices. These findings confirm the call to strengthen and support interventions that seek to empower the people with hygiene and its relationship to a healthy and dignified lifestyle.
The partnership with Oxfam Australia was extended in 2015 to include NGO and NPO stakeholders in the early childhood development space to develop of an “Advocacy Learning Brief” that sorts to empower stakeholders including ECD forum members and government officials as duty bearers on the importance of WASH both in schools, ECD centres as well as communities in general. The partnership was eager to start sowing the seeds of WASH as a sustainable agenda that should receive focus and attention from various angles including the affected school children, educators, ECD practitioners and heads of NGOs working in the ECD sector department of social development officials.
The partnership with uThando Project; uThando Dolls remain a vehicle in which TREE is able to bring hope to children and positively impact their lives.
These children are in under-resourced communities where play and educational resources are worn out; and in most cases; not enough (or available at all) for the number of children enrolled in the Primary Schools and ECD sites. TREE’s 31 years of experience in the ECD sector has shown beyond doubt that the availability of resources is interrelated to the ability of practitioners to provide quality ECD services. Most importantly; our experience has shown that children learn better while playing and having fun. UThando Dolls are thus seen as giving substance to what is meant by education through play. It is under this context that uThando Dolls are positively impacting in the lives of children, as well a, building confidence in practitioners to offer children quality ECD services as per their developmental milestones.
JAM and Ethekwini Foods continue to support our community and centre-based interventions by providing children and families with nutritional porridge and soup. This partnership is critical in our pursuit of ensuring that all children develop to their full potential in line with their rights and needs. As an organization deliberately targeting marginalized communities whose children have no prospects of a better life due to the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment; it is important that such partnership are harnessed and expanded to reach communities we have not reached yet. The provision of these nutritional packages must be complemented by concerted efforts to have them start income generating activities that will see them start earning income to complement the social grants they receive and the nutritional packages we offer to them. It is critical we integrate components of sustainability in all our interventions so we ensure we do not create dependency; but rather empowered communities who are pioneers of ECD and subsequently their own development.
The JAM partnership further allowed us to provide 1800 children with TOMS shoes in November. This intervention came at a right time; and we were able to put smiles in children and reduce the burden of parents and caregivers who struggle to make ends meet in their households. JAM has confirmed that they will provide us with an additional 1200 shoes for children in the ILembe District in 2016. Nutritional support will be further extended to the Flagstaff HVP programme and to practitioners in Nkandla. In this way; TREE will continue to undermine poverty and empower members of these communities to be pioneers of quality ECD and agents of their own development.
TREE‟s longstanding partnership with Persona Dolls Training (PDT) continues to grow from strength to strength. Through this partnership TREE has been able to develop psychosocial skills, unlearn prejudice, as well as challenge discrimination in unthreatening ways amongst the children and practitioners. The Persona Dolls approach is a creative and interactive tool used by practitioners and family facilitators to foster values of anti-bias in ECD sites, schools, households, and communities in general. TREE trainers and family facilitators were trained in the latter stages of the first quarter on this approach and its power of shifting mindsets and promoting anti-bias in the provision of ECD services in the communities they work. It is critically important for us at TREE that we promote these values so we ensure that the basket of services we offer are done so in an appropriate manner that promotes inclusivity.
During the second quarter; a questionnaire was conducted with the trainers, facilitators, and practitioners who have been impacted by the partnership to ascertain the extent to which Persona Dolls are used in our programming; gauge levels of understanding around the power of the Dolls in changing mindsets and promoting anti-bias; as well as what is best working with the project. These questionnaires were completed; and a number of responses were made. Overall however; the responses were indicative that all involved in the PDT programme realize its power in facilitating learning, and getting children to share what is happening in their lives. Most importantly; all realize its value in strengthening relations between practitioners and children; as well as enabling practitioners to identify children with issues at an early stage. This empowers practitioners to be proactive rather than reactive to issues affecting children. In this way; TREE continues to positively impact on children and empower communities to be pioneers of quality ECD provisioning within communities.
As set out in Articles 23, 28, and 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that children with disabilities have the right to special care, education, and all the rights outlined in the convention. TREE partnered with Ilifa Labantwana and DART to give impetus to these rights in KZN’s Ugu and Umzinyathi District Municipalities. As previously reported, our partnership with Ilifa Labantwana has provided opportunities to test innovative ECD models and upscale to district level. This has included expanding services to children with special needs through the creation of ECD inclusive hubs in the Ugu and Umzinyathi districts of KZN. We have successfully completed the project in the Ugu District, having established 6 hubs, and have started work with 6 centres in the Umzinyathi District. Through this partnership, we have also developed curricula to support the various registration processes as required by the Children’s Act targeting social workers, auxiliary workers and environmental health practitioners. This capacity building programme will ensure a supported registration process as well as support to practitioners in creating conducive and sustainable ECD services.
PROJECT PREPARATION TRUST
TREE partnered with PPT and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) for the Project to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD) in informal ECD centres. This partnership is premised by the reality that large numbers of children with informal settlements lack access to superior ECD care and services. Aligned with the National Development Plan; the approach of this partnership is an enhanced, programmatic and scale-able model that will allow large numbers of children in unregistered ECD sites to be positively impacted. The core objective of this partnership is thus to research, pilot, and establish a new and improved model of support to ECD centres within eThekwini in order to access improved care, learning, and safety for children. Activities for the project included:
- Conducting a field survey within the pilot study area.
- Developing an ECD response model to enable various kinds of support and assistance to ECD centres at various levels.
- Infrastructural improvements at approximately 6 pilot sites.
- Training and support for the registration of ECD centres with the KZN Department of Social Development.
- Refining the response model based on learning from pilot projects with a view to planning for implementation at scale.
As advanced in the contractual agreement; TREE has up to date supported the development and refinement of the research method, tools and log frame. Above this; TREE supported the field assessment processes; attended the necessary meetings; as well as provided feedback to the stakeholders. Going forward; TREE will support the pilot intervention at 6 ECD centres by:
- Selecting the 6 centres to be piloted.
- Developing improvement plans for the 6
centres and supporting implementation.
- Updating the baseline for the 6 centres.
- Providing skills training and learning equipment.
- Contributing to the quantitative research study, dissemination, and policy feedback.
TREE remains enthused and committed to the successful completion of the pilot study and the subsequent scale-up implementation. We are of the view that this intervention will do a great service to the advancement of quality ECD provisioning in underserved communities.
NATIONAL ECD ALLIANCE
Through our Director, TREE is currently leading the National ECD Alliance as Chair. Participation as well as working with this platform has been instrumental in giving the organisation an opportunity to influence the sector in many national key processes that have impacted on the ECD sector. The knowledge gained through these various interactions have been catalytic in shaping our own strategy as an organisation in how we will continue to contribute toward the realisation of national objectives for ECD. We are very much in touch and attuned to the development as well as implementation of the ECD policy which we now await to be promulgated before the end of November. Through the leadership of our Director, Bertha Magoge the national ECD Alliance, as well as the inter-sectorial steering committee are beginning to reclaim space and authority in the sector to find winning ways in which to collaborate with government. We are proud of the role we are playing in leading and contributing to revitalising the sector.
In our province of KZN, the organisation continues to play an important conduit and supportive role to other organisations by providing meeting space and other administrative services to the KPPAC forum on ECD as well as to other networks, eg, the SA Association of Toy libraries. We believe in the power of community and will always and where appropriate use our well-developed infrastructure to benefit other organisations who contribute to the sector. In opening ourselves up to others, we find we gain so much more.